On Monday May 31st, a new economic stimulus package was unveiled by Malaysian Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. The stimulus package comes to RM40 billion (US$9.7 billion). The rolling out of the stimulus package is the government’s way of lessening the impacts of the total lockdown on its citizens.
This stimulus package is known as the “Strategic Programme to Empower the People and Economy (Pemerkasa) Plus”. Tan Sri Muhyiddin addressed the country during a live telecast last night. He said the package will aim to increase the capacity of public hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. It is also to support continuity of businesses and to help the people.
Allocation of the package
The number of intensive care unit beds and equipment for COVID-19 treatment will be increased with a RM450 million allocation. The Prime Minister said RM550 million will cover expenses from increased operating and management costs in dealing with the pandemic.
RM2.1 billion will be allocated to lower-income households earning less than RM5,000 per month says Tan Sri Muhyiddin. This is expected to help Malaysians directly.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin said “This is mainly to ensure the well-being and survival of the vulnerable, as well as to ensure that workers who depend on daily wages can continue to be assisted. They are expected to be among the most affected following the enforcement of the lockdown.”
For the bottom 40 per cent group and people who have lost their jobs, an optional loan moratorium would be offered says the Malaysian PM. This moratorium extends to micro-entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) unable to operate during the MCO as well.
Nearly 17,000 tour guides will receive a RM500 one-off special cash aid, as announced by Tan Sri Muhyiddin. The aid also covers nearly 62,000 e-hailing drivers, 40,000 taxi drivers, 11,000 school bus drivers, and 4,000 express bus drivers. Totaling in at RM68 million, the financial aid will be given to registered recipients in July.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin acknowledged the fact that the government has limited finances to spare currently.
He said, “I would like to be frank, the government has limited fiscal power to spend at this time. However for the sake of the people’s welfare, the government will strive to find a balance between lives and livelihoods … to enable people to survive for the duration of this MCO (movement control order)”.
Lastly, Tan Sri Muhyiddin said ministers and deputy ministers will not receive their salaries for 3 months from June to August. The PM explains that this is a show of support for the country’s fight against COVID-19.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin said “The salaries will be channelled to the country’s disaster trust account to fund COVID-19 related expenses.”
Prior to the latest stimulus package, Putrajaya had given out six stimulus packages totaling nearly RM340 billion.
Curbing the recent rise in COVID-19 cases is an uphill challenge to the Malaysian government. On Tuesday, the country will begin a two-week total lockdown. During this time, only 17 essential service sectors will be allowed to operate. Malls, health centers and entertainment sectors will be shut. Food and beverage, healthcare, telecommunications and media, utilities as well as banking are some of the few sectors that remain open.
Record high cases
There were 9,020 new COVID-19 cases reported in the country on Saturday. Compared to the start of the pandemic, this is the highest daily toll. The numbers kept on growing until Saturday, making it the fifth straight day of record new infections.
A total of 6,824 new cases were reported on Monday. In the entire nation, there are over 570,000 cases. To date, COVID-19 has claimed a total of 2,796 lives.
The PM said there is a risk that the Malaysian economy could collapse, although a full lockdown would guarantee people’s safety. He made this statement during a recent interview on May 23rd.
1st June 2021 23:00
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